Although Koeman still seems to have at least one game, Laporta is already looking at possible replacements and now sees Xavi as an option.
Things haven’t been great at FC Barcelona lately. The relationship between the club’s president, Joan Laporta, and the first team’s head coach, Ronald Koeman, seems to be falling apart. At the end of last season, the Dutch coach wasn’t happy with the way he was treated by the club, which was looking at possibilities to replace him. Laporta (59) ended up sticking with Koeman, but the team didn’t have a great start to the season with only two wins in five games in La Liga and a loss in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.
It was reported that this would be an important week for Koeman (58), but it has started with two draws against lower placed teams. Koeman released a statement in a press conference about having realistic expectations for this season, because the squad is not good enough to compete in all tournaments. This didn’t seem to land too well with the president.
Now, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo has reported that Xavi Hernández is an option in case Koeman is fired. Koeman will still lead the team against Levante on Sunday (although he won’t be on the bench because of a suspension), but after that, nobody at the club knows what’s going to happen.
Laporta recently said to the press that the club was still behind Koeman, but he also revealed that his continuity depended on results and that he didn’t want an attitude of already accepting and expecting defeat, which seemed to be a reaction to Koeman’s statement.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Laporta was blocking the option of Xavi as the manager before, but that is now in the past and he is one of the top candidates. Many people surrounding the president are reportedly telling him Xavi (41) is the best man for the job.
Xavi is a La Masía product, who ended up as one of the best midfielders in Barça’s history. He also was captain of some very successful teams and has great leadership qualities. Xavi is loved by the fans, and is a big supporter of the club’s core values, like the 4-3-3 system. Appointing him could allow Laporta to ask for more patience for his project.
Xavi is currently the coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd and doesn’t have any clause in his contract that would facilitate his departure to Barça. He renewed until 2023 and the exit option in his contract was eliminated in case Barça called him, but his environment believes that the Qatari club would not hinder his departure, given his excellent relationship with the leaders of the club.
Roberto Martínez, Belgium’s national team coach and another possible Koeman replacement, can reportedly hardly leave the Belgian team before October 10. The Belgian federation sees him as very important and wants to keep him for the Final Four of the Nations League and they’re confident he’ll even stay until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.